The horrible tragedy in South Carolina in June ignited a national conversation about the role of Confederate flags and memorials. Here in Talbot County, public discussion surrounds a statue on our Courthouse lawn. “The Talbot Boys” celebrates nine of our county’s Confederate soldiers, with no mention of Talbot County’s Union soldiers. Many want that statue removed. Others propose moving it to a different location. Hardly a week goes by without something about the Talbot Boys on the radio, in the newspapers or on social media. The Talbot Association of Clergy and Laity even held a public forum last week on the topic.
I heard a different story about Talbot Boys and the Civil War this week.
It’s no surprise that Talbot County was right in the center of the Mason Dixon line. Local communities were completely torn, brother against brother, cousin against cousin. I’m told that if you notice Civil War era brick houses, you’ll see that their gable ends were bricked up. Why? So the homeowners only had to protect two sides of their houses. Very difficult times.
True story. A returning Yankee soldier, coming home to Talbot, came across a wounded, dying Confederate soldier. He stopped and performed first aid – a tourniquet. The wounded soldier’s uniform must not have mattered so much to him at that point, so close to home.
Fast forward 36 years. An ad placed in the Star Democrat sought five sturdy logs, of a certain length and girth, to build a wooden boat. A man in Cambridge, MD responded, saying he might have the logs needed. When Charles Glendenning arrived at the house in Cambridge, and the door opened, that Union soldier from so many years before looked into the eyes of the Confederate soldier whose life he saved.
To this day, those five logs, carved and pegged, still form the hull of one of the oldest remaining log canoes on the Chesapeake Bay – #16, Island Lark, of St. Michaels.
Perhaps Island Lark herself is a fitting monument to all the Talbot Boys who fought on both sides of the war.
Thanks, Tad, for sharing the story.
And it’s not too late to see the last log canoe race of the season – on Sep 19. Look for Island Lark. From now on, whenever I see the log canoe fleet, it will be hard not to remember those two Eastern Shore boys, 114 years ago, right here in Talbot County.